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Catapilla - Changes CD (album) cover

CHANGES

Catapilla

 

Eclectic Prog

3.51 | 78 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Post Jefferson Airplane Psychedelia with Prominent Saxophone

Caterpilla was an English psychedelic / prog band from the 70's who produced two albums before going the way of some many before them. CHANGES was their second album, which from reviews, seemed to be at least the better produced of the two. I picked it up for cheap and found myself listening to a singular female vocalist and some respectable psych prog. The most dominant elements are lead singer Anna Meek's Grace Slick ? like vocals and a sad wailing saxophone courtesy of Robert Calvert. Meek takes everything Slick did a step further, for good and bad. Her range spans considerably higher, and there are times where it's haunting tone sends a shiver up your spine. There are also times where it gets grating. Generous echo is applied to her voice at times and her theatrics are energetic to say the least. Though her tonality is eerily similar to the Jefferson Airplane singer, her skills as a vocalist are clearly a firm notch better. She also pushes her limits harder.

The music is a laid back, unassuming affair where the instrumentalists really provide support rather than contributing to the meat of the songs. The songs themselves are not compositions but grooves in sections a la most rock or some funk / jazz fusion. Though the music stays interesting through the use of syncopation and occasional up tempo stretches, this is really not that "proggy" in the sense of complexity. It is very psychedelic in the lines of Hawkwind or Eloy, and probably should have been categorized there. The drums are slightly swinging though not overtly jazzy, the bass mainly just holding down the bottom end.

The most interesting element in the music is the way that Meeks uses her voice more as an instrument and how she and Calvert weave their tones and lines. Clearly improvisational, the two actually match surprisingly closely and one of their signature tricks is for Meeks to hit a note and for Calvert to crescendo in on the same note, creating a long sustain that seem impossible. It is often difficult to determine exactly where one blends into the other.

The album seems much longer than its 37 minutes because there really isn't a lot of variation in the sound. While it's pleasant enough, not much really grabs me here. This is the kind of music to have in the background on a Saturday night in a smoky club where the conversation is more important than actually watching the band. Great for atmosphere, but not strong enough to really command sustained attention. A strong 2/5 stars.

Negoba | 2/5 |

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